Microsoft ‘Singularity’ AI infrastructure service

Microsoft goes public with details on its 'Singularity' AI infrastructure service

Microsoft’s Azure and Research teams are working together to build a new AI infrastructure service, codenamed “Singularity.” The Singularity team is working to build what Microsoft describes in some of its job postings for the group as “a new AI platform service ground-up from scratch that will become a major driver for AI, both inside Microsoft and outside.”

A group of those working on the project have published a paper entitled “Singularity: Planet-Scale, Preemptile and Elastic Scheduling of AI Workloads,” which provides technical details about the Singularity effort. The Singularity service is about providing data scientists and AI practitioners with a way to build, scale, experiment and iterate on their models on a Microsoft-provided distributed infrastructure service built specifically for AI.

Authors listed on the newly published paper include Azure Chief Technical Officer Mark Russinovich; Partner Architect Rimma Nehme, who worked on Azure Cosmos DB until moving to Azure to work on AI and deep learning in 2019; and Technical Fellow Dharma Shukla. From that paper:

“At the heart of Singularity is a novel, workload-aware scheduler that can transparently preempt and elastically scale deep learning workloads to drive high utilization without impacting their correctness or performance, across a global fleet of accelerators (e.g., GPUs, FPGAs).”

Microsoft officials previously have discussed plans to make FPGAs, or field-programmable gate arrays, available to customers as a service. In 2018, Microsoft went public about its “Project Brainwave” work which was designed to provide fast AI processing in Azure.” At that time, Microsoft made available a preview of Azure Machine Learning Hardware Accelerated Models powered by Brainwave in the cloud — a first step in making FPGA processing for AI workloads available to customers.

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